Former police chief offers advice after first fatal officer-involved shooting in 26 years

Bill Becker was Middletown police chief in October 1997.

MIDDLETOWN — Bill Becker speaks from experience.

He was Middletown’s police chief in 1997, the last time there was an officer-involved fatal shooting in the city.

In October of that year, police officer Aaron McQueen shot and killed Micah Lofton after the car Lofton was driving rammed a police cruiser then headed for McQueen near the dead end of Plymouth Avenue, according to newspaper records.

McQueen was cleared of any wrong-doing, but he left the department a short time later, Becker said.

Now Middletown officers, some of them not alive in 1997, are dealing with another fatal police-involved shooting.

On Saturday night, Victor Lykins, 47, of Middletown, was shot and killed following a traffic stop in the parking lot of Walmart, 2900 Towne Blvd. Dr. Russell Uptegrove from the Warren County Coroner’s Office said an autopsy was performed over the weekend at the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.

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Middletown Police Chief David Birk said shots were fired by an officer at the two occupants inside the vehicle, killing one. The other person in the SUV was not injured.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation was called to the scene Saturday and is investigating.

No police officers were injured. Two officers involved in the traffic stop are on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard procedure, according to Birk.

Becker said anytime there is a shooting, and police are involved, it creates “a lot of stress” in the department. He said it’s like “a wake up call” for the officers.

“They think, ‘That could have been me,’” he said. “They just have to take it one shift, one day at a time and don’t let their guard down.”

In 1997, the deadly shooting was investigated by the Middletown police department and there were no cruiser cameras, he said.

“Things are different today,” Becker said.

Middletown has cruiser cameras, but no body cameras.

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